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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Con Ed blames city, smart meters

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive an enhanced version of this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access. Thank you for reading.

CON ED: NYC AT FAULT FOR HARLEM EXPLOSION — Politico New York’s Scott Waldman: Consolidated Edison officials say the utility is not at fault and should not be fined by the state for the deadly gas explosion that killed eight people in Harlem in 2014. The fault lies with New York City for not maintaining infrastructure, Con Ed officials wrote in a response to the state Public Service Commission’s finding that the utility bore much of the responsibility for the explosion. Con Ed’s response, filed Monday, was a response to the PSC’s consideration of a fine against the utility.

CON ED’S BRAVE NEW METERS — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Amid the lofty goals and rhetoric surrounding the state's Reforming the Energy Vision, the nuts and bolts changes that will need to be made to dramatically scale up clean energy and energy efficiency are beginning to emerge. Perhaps the most important upgrade to the state's grid is also the most basic: the electric meter itself.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 61 percent of New York’s carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. New York’s nuclear energy fleet supports about 18,000 jobs and provides $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP. Learn more at **

SOLARCITY CELEBRATES ITC EXTENSION IN BUFFALO — Buffalo News’ David Robinson: “Saving a federal tax credit that shaves 30 percent off the cost of new solar energy systems was so important to SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive that he flew to Buffalo to join U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer at a news conference Tuesday to hail the five-year extension of a subsidy that he says will allow the industry to keep growing. ‘It’s super important,’ Rive said outside the sprawling solar panel factory that SolarCity is building in South Buffalo. ‘It certainly will mean that the solar industry will continue to grow from here.’”

IS ANYTHING HAPPENING TODAY? If you have energy and environment-related events you’d like to announce, we’re all ears here at POLITICO New York.


--General Electric will decide next month whether it will move its headquarters to New York, Massachusetts or elsewhere.

--The Ithaca Voice answers nine contentious questions about the Black Oak Wind Farm outside Ithaca.

--Westchester not told of dam attack: The Ithaca Journal reports, “Westchester County officials were never told by their federal partners on a joint terrorism task force about a 2013 cyberattack on a dam owned by the city of Rye, County Executive Rob Astorino said Tuesday.”

--City architect retrofitting affordable stock: DNA Info reports, “Chris Benedict is working with the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council — which runs complexes that are 100 percent affordable — to upgrade at least nine of its buildings in Bushwick to meet“passive house” standards.”

--A coalition of more than 40 environmental and community groups has launched a new campaign to pressure the Cuomo administration to reject the Constitution pipeline.

--A preserve for white deer in Central New York is moving forward.

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING : Let us know anytime if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at and And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link:

THE NATION’S CHIEF CLIMATE HOLDOUT — The Washington Post’s Lisa Rein: “When Republican House leaders appointed Texas Republican Lamar S. Smith to lead the House science committee after a headline-grabbing run as chairman of the Judiciary panel, it looked like the veteran lawmaker could head into obscurity. He had previously championed an end to automatic citizenship for children born in the United States and riled up advocates for freedom of expression on the Internet.”

STATE, FEDS KEEP OIL TRAIN DATA FROM PUBLIC — Columbus Dispatch’s Laura Arenschield and Rick Rouan: “Information that state and federal government agencies collect about train derailments, particularly those that cause crude-oil spills, is hard to find. Huge amounts of data about collisions, derailments and other accidents that happen along railroads in the United States are collected every year. Some of it is compiled by the industry and distributed directly to the public upon request.”

OUR SHIFT AWAY FROM COAL — SNL Energy’s Everett Wheeler: “U.S. coal producers have been weathering a long coal market down cycle, but more recently, coal producers have started to see this market weakness not as a temporary phenomenon that's a cold snap or a heat wave away from being resolved, but as resulting from a structural shift in power supply. ”

COAL STATES SUFFERING TOO — The Wall Street Journal: “The governors of West Virginia and Wyoming, the nation’s top two coal-producing states, are ... trying to make ends meet. Amid a steep coal downturn caused by competition with cheap natural gas, lower overseas demand and tougher environmental rules, depressed coal-related tax revenues are helping to throw the finances of the two states into turmoil.”

KINDER MORGAN PLANS ETHANOL EXPANSION — Bloomberg’s Shruti Singh: “Kinder Morgan Inc. and Andersons Inc. announced separate plans to invest in ethanol projects amid record demand and after the U.S. mandated increased higher use in gasoline in 2016. Houston-based Kinder agreed with Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., the largest U.S. ethanol producer, and Bailey Feed Mill to develop a new ethanol hub in Selma, North Carolina. Kinder will construct the new facilities and pipeline to distribute ethanol in the region. The whole project is expected to be complete by the end of 2016, Chicago-based ADM said in a statement Monday.”

CRESTWOOD SLIDE NOT SO EXTREME — SNL Energy’s Nish Amarnath: “Despite Crestwood Equity Partners LP's 17-month slide on the stock market, Raging Capital Management LLC remains convinced in the long-term value of the partnership. William Martin, chairman and chief investment officer of the Rocky Hill, N.J.-based hedge fund investor, told SNL Energy that he believes investors' concerns about the financial strength of the company are out of line with its actual situation.”

AMID LAWSUIT, MICHIGAN COMPLYING WITH CLEAN POWER — The Associated Press: “Michigan is on track for now to meet federal requirements for reducing carbon emissions from electric power plants, officials said Tuesday, in a program Gov. Rick Snyder has directed his team to comply with even though the state attorney general has joined a lawsuit challenging it.”

CITIES BACKING CLEAN POWER — The Associated Press: “The nation’s largest cities are stepping up in defense of President Barack Obama’s plan to slow climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions — in many cases taking the opposite legal position from their state governments. The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities on Tuesday filed motions in support of the Clean Power Plan with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.”

CLIMATARIAN: The New York Times published its list of new food-related words and phrases from 2015. Included in the list is “climatarian,” which the paper describes as "A diet whose primary goal is to reverse climate change. This includes eating locally produced food (to reduce energy spent in transportation), choosing pork and poultry instead of beef and lamb (to limit gas emissions), and using every part of ingredients (apple cores, cheese rinds, etc.) to limit food waste."

BETTING ON OIL, INDIRECTLY — The Wall Street Journal: “Some traders anticipating a rebound in oil are making an indirect bet: wagering on energy companies and the currencies of oil-producing nations instead of the commodity itself. Their approach is spurred in part by contango, an occasional event in which the current price of oil is lower than prices for future delivery. The phenomenon, which prevailed this year, makes it more expensive to bet on oil futures, as it forces investors pay up when they trade out of old contracts and into newer ones.”

STOCKPILES TO INCREASE — The Wall Street Journal’s Timothy Puko: “U.S. crude-oil stocks are expected to increase in data due Wednesday from the Department of Energy, according to a survey of analysts by The Wall Street Journal. Estimates from 10 analysts surveyed showed that U.S. oil inventories are projected to have increased by 600,000 barrels, on average, in the week ended Dec. 18.”


--Oil gains: The Wall Street Journal reports domestic crude outpaced european Tuesday.

“Light, sweet crude for February delivery gained 33 cents, or 0.9%, to $36.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 24 cents, or 0.7%, to $36.11 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, setting a new low dating back to July 2004. U.S. oil has lost 13% so far this month, compared with losses of 19% for Brent.”

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America’s existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals.

In New York, nuclear energy plants provide 31 percent of the state’s electricity and 61 percent of our carbon-free electricity. The existing nuclear energy plants in New York also support about 18,000 jobs and provide $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP.

If we want to keep New York working, we need policies that will keep New York’s state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Join us at **

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